Puppy training kids

 In dog, family

Some cautioned me about getting a puppy. “It’s a huge commitment!” they said. “It is like adding a child to the family!” they warned … but you can’t lock your child in a pen and leave the house. (At least you shouldn’t!) And, let’s face it, this is a dog – not a human. I wiped the cautions to the wind and scooped up the pooper scooper.

Mr. Milo, our petite golden doodle, is now almost 5 months old and about 10 lbs. He’s sleeping 8 hours without a potty break, and he’s even learned some tricks {shake, roll over, sit, laydown, stay}. Our children take an active role in his training, and in return, the pup has been actively teaching the children too.

For example, we can thank Milo for these life lessons so far:

Consequences for bad behavior help teach good behavior. Oh, I love that my kiddos are learning the benefits of consequences by giving them. First they offer distractions, then scold as a warning, and then (if the pup still isn’t obeying) they give the consequence. My kiddos don’t really like dishing it out – but they’ve exhausted all other options, so they have to. Sound familiar, parents!? The beauty is, now when it’s their turn to receive a consequence, they understand it’s given out of love and learning; not an evil plan to manipulate and punish.

Milo tennis_small
Pick little things off the floor.
So far, only one LEGO piece (shaped like a tiny pack of dynamite) has been swallowed … and some cardboard, paper, rocks, scraps of food, and …. ? But the little people are getting better at keeping their little things up off the floor! That’s a win!
Milo run

Communication skills.
A little person’s naturally high pitched voice doesn’t produce an attentive puppy … instead, the puppy gets crazy for human-sized squeaky toys. So, the kids are learning to lower their voice, make eye contact and give specific commands. I love seeing these them realize that simple and small alterations to their communication style make a big difference in the dog’s reaction. We’re also learning about being strong in our stance and signs, so that the puppy gets clear signals. I think it’s teaching about confidence, and what that looks like on the outside and feels like on the inside.
Av Milo_sm


A little love goes a long way. Milo likes to be propped up over a shoulder and burped like a baby. Or at least cuddled like a baby. It’s quite cute. In return, he’ll slather your face with kisses if you lay down … and the kids purposefully do lay down and call him over whenever they need an extra dose of unconditional love. Just a few licks, a little belly rub time, or a snuggle session will go a long way in a dog day … and in a human’s heart.


Patience. Practice. Praise. No matter how many times they’ve called him, they shower him with praise when he finally comes. They just keep practicing the same tricks. They empathetically realize this is a new world and way of life for him, and with that empathy comes patience. Oh, all this puppy training teaches me (and them) so much about parenting.

Tonight we circled up for family prayer and Milo meandered into the middle – gnawing on a bone at first, and then irreverently kissing in Eli’s ear after his tired head bowed too low …. And after the ‘amen’ everyone’s eyes and nighttime hugs went straight to Milo. Finally, everyone ascended upstairs for the final tuck-ins … well, everyone except me. I let my face get swallowed in his fluff and told him how very much I loved him … and then I tucked him into bed, offering him a stuffy and little blanket … just like I do for my youngest child.  Oh, okay, maybe it is a tiny bit like adding a child to the family …

And you know how fast kiddos grow? Yeah, this pup is even out-growing my lovely littles! You can tell just by scrolling through the pics – that first one (with the shoe) was taken just 6 weeks ago, and the last one was much more recent, after his first trip to the groomers  — they really fluffed him up! We almost didn’t recognize him!

What lessons have your pooches and pets taught you and yours?

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